My background is mathematics and am trying to learn some science in my spare time. In university we had mathematical physics courses such as EM and QM, but I didn't devote much energy towards them as I had no understanding of the experimental motivations for the given axioms, so it just felt like going through the motions of making calculations rather than gaining an intuitive understanding of the natural world.
So over the years I try looking at physics textbooks (eg. Griffiths for EM), but it's basically the same thing. A few pages of brief historical summary here and there followed by laws (Maxwell/Schrodinger/etc.) followed by calculations for the remainder. Obviously the mathematical consequences of the laws are important but it's the same situation as before.
Of course these textbooks primarily exist to serve the university system where there is a need to train students for industry or as research assistants in a short space of time, so I understand the choice of material. But I wonder if there's any better texts available for people who want to focus on gaining an understanding of the scientific method that lead to our current understanding. I know there are plenty of physics history books, but I imagine most require knowledge of the contents of the standard textbooks to get the most out of.
I don't need to see excruciating detail of theoretical developments from the time of ancient Greece (eg. History of Mechanics by Dugas), but are there any relatively comprehensive texts (including calculations) that present a 'spanning' set of experimental accounts that lead up to the theoretical model?